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Belief in god helps patients with clinical depression


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A recent research has found that in patients diagnosed with clinical depression, belief in God improves their response to medical treatment.

The research by Chicago's Rush University Medical Center found that those with strong beliefs in a personal and concerned God were more likely to experience an improvement in their treatment.

The researchers compared the levels of melancholy or hopelessness in 136 adults diagnosed with major depression or bipolar depression with their sense of "religious well-being." They found participants who scored in the top third of a scale charting a sense of religious well-being were 75 percent more likely to get better with medical treatment for clinical depression.

"In our study, the positive response to medication had little to do with the feeling of hope that typically accompanies spiritual belief," said study director Patricia Murphy, a chaplain at Rush and an assistant professor of religion, health and human values. "It was tied specifically to the belief that a Supreme Being cared," she said.

"For people diagnosed with clinical depression, medication certainly plays an important role in reducing symptoms," Ms. Murphy added. "But when treating persons diagnosed with depression, clinicians need to be aware of the role of religion in their patients' lives. It is an important resource in planning their care."

Public opinion polls - from Gallup to the Pew Research Center - reveal that large majorities of Americans believe in God. It is a factor among the researchers as well.

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